Writing a pitch for the media

Pitching ideas to the media is one of the most important skills every PR pro should master. And while email is perhaps the primary vehicle for getting stories out, it’s oftentimes our greatest enemy. Journalists consistently cite email as their preferred method of contact, setting us up against the hundreds of pitches, media alerts and press releases that flood their inboxes every day.

What can you do to cut through the clutter and ensure your pitch about that new tech startup that will change the order of reality is at the top of your contact’s inbox? If you’ve prepared content that’s relevant and targeted to the journalist, and topped it off with a catchy subject line, you’re halfway there. Before hitting send, take a quick glance at the time – this is one of the key factors that will play into whether your email is even opened.

For those who work in PR, or for anyone else in an occupation that depends on email open rates, email software provider GetResponse analyzed more than 21 million emails its clients sent during 2012, and released an infographic detailing all you need to know about the best and worst times to be sending. Among the findings:

  • Emails are most likely to be read within the first hour of delivery, when they have a 24 percent chance of being opened. After the second hour, the results drop by half, and after 24 hours, email open rates are close to zero.
  • The best time to send emails is when the receiver is reviewing their inbox – this tends to be in the morning or early afternoon. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that almost 40 percent of all emails are sent between 6 a.m. and noon, cluttering inboxes and increasing the likelihood your message is lost in the shuffle. So, messages sent in the early afternoon might be your best bet.

Of course, for PR pros working with a global network of media contacts (like we do here at March), time zone differences are another factor to consider. Know where each writer is based before you pitch, and plan accordingly.

There are a number of things we all know are vital to keeping your pitch from getting deleted: keep it tailored, personal, brief and catchy. But, what’s just as important is thinking about how to ensure your pitches are even opened in the first place, and this could simply come down to the right timing.

Do follow any other habits that help improve the visibility of your pitches?


This post was first published by Hanah Johnson on March Communications’ blog PR Nonsense.